“No one travels quite so high as he who knows not where he is going.”
Oliver Cromwell

Why Efi?

n

Efi, the oldest chicken at Bhudeva, died. I found her unmoving but breathing yesterday and carried her outside to some soft green grass and sunshine, placed her back inside in the evening and found her dead this morning. She had a mixture of grey (her name came from the Hebrew word for gray) and white feathers.

If I remember correctly she was a Bhudeva native … she was first an egg here and then hatched in the first generation of chicks that were born here (though she may be from the initial batch of chicks that Andreea’s aunt gifted us when we moved to Bhudeva). Andreea was still here and she used to spend time with the chickens (more then I did/do). Efi was the chicken that most clearly responded to Andreea’s affections. As a result she, unlike the rest of the chickens, actually came up to people asking for attentions. When I went to give the chickens food in the morning she would come up to me so close that I would have be careful not to step on her. She let me caress her neck (and would lower her head for better access), massage her chest, she would lift her wings for some under-wing touching. More like a dog then a chicken.

Over the last two years I thought about culling her (it wasn’t personal, just flock management) … but didn’t. She hasn’t been productive for a long time. She had to be separated from the main flock because the males would be too hard on her. She had patches of missing feathers and sometimes and raw skin from the males mounting her. She spent the lat couple of months together with an old(ish) male – they became very intimate … like a couple of pensioners. I left the two of them in the barn when I moved the rest of the chickens to pasture. Sometimes I let them out for some sun and grass … but only when I was around to supervise so that they didn’t damage garden plants. He was more active. She would find a comfortable spot to sit … and just sit there. When I was around she sometimes stayed close to me.

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Yesterday I felt she was nearing her end. This morning she was gone. I asked myself what to do with her – compost or bury? An answer came: “bury”. I asked myself where? An answer came “next to the experimental swale”. I asked myself now (I had just come out of my morning practice, I wanted to make breakfast and it was raining) or later? An answer came: “now”. So off I went …

I carried her up the hill to the swale and started digging a hole. It then came to me to plant a tree on top of her. I asked myself which tree? An answer came “the acacia tree on the path next to the house”. I started walking in that direction to dig up the tree … on the way I passed the prune orchard and asked myself “how about a prune tree?” An answer came “no”. I continued to the tree but it was too big and too established to dig out and transport. I was sent to another tree on a path that winds up behind the house. It too was established but it was willing to go. I found myself digging and working hard … the rich clay soil is saturated with water … and the tree has strong roots. I had to bring an axe to cut through some of the roots. I got it out … the root system was large with two large stems growing out of it. I dragged the tree with me to the swale and continued digging a larger hole to accommodate the large roots. It was an elongated hole. I placed Efi’s body gently in on one end, covered it with some soil, then added the tree and covered it all.

I got home tired, wet, sweaty and dirty (I had only planned to step out for a short/soft morning round). I got out of my clothes and had a short shower. I dressed in a random selection of mismatched colors. I then resumed my breakfast plans … centered around an omlette with freshly harvested after-the-rain-mushrooms, wild nettles and spinach leaves from the garden. An abundant experience … an abundance which Efi is now a part of.

During all this I was wondering – why? What was so special about Efi? I am not an animal lover … certainly not an emotional one. Why would I delay my breakfast, go out in the rain and mud, carry a dead chicken and an uprooted tree up a hill? Efi’s behavior was not a result of my caring for her … it was Andreea’s relating to her … and THAT was why. Efi was and continues to be a reminder of a quality of relationship that Andreea nurtured. A vibration I deeply appreciate. I didn’t put Efi in the compost pile (where she would have been recycled into nutrients which would have nourished the Bhudeva ecosystem) because I wanted that vibration to cycle more deeply into the ecology of Bhudeva.

An acacia tree signifies a deeper relationship than a prune tree. The prune tree may have have produced fruits for me, but the acacia tree will nurture the soil it grows on and its surrounding ecology creating longer lasting effects. The location is at an experiment of healing and restoration. The tree has two stems sticking out in a V shape … a shape of expansion that Andreea introduced into our life and Bhudeva.

All those vibrations (and more than I am conscious of) resonated through me, through Efi, through Andreea … and into the earth here at Bhudeva … on this delicate, rainy spring morning.

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Matt Mullenweg on GMO’s

n

Matt on GMO’s a comment about a pro-GMO article. I commented on it and am reposting the comment here:

If that is scientific then it would seem that science is broken … and science doesn’t seem to know it.

Science has a clear view on one aspect of climate change: the past. Scientific community is able to study effects of our past actions on the present state of climate and ecosystems. It has much less to say and even less paths-of-action to offer about how to meet and act on the climate change front (and some of what little it has to offer is ecologically even more dangerous).

GMO’s are a relatively new scientific domain. Science and scientists have no way to scientifically say much about the effects of GMO’s because there is little evidence to observe and research. In a generation or two (or ten), assuming of course that GMO’s proliferate, we may have a body of evidence with which scientists can work and draw conclusions about the effects of GMO’s.

Saying that GMO’s are safe / healthy / ecological is speculative and wishful thinking … not scientific. GMO’s are an experiment … and should be treated and presented as such. It is one thing to tell a farmer that we have developed a genetically modified plant that is pest resistant. It is another thing to tell a farmer that we have developed a GM plant that is pest resistant but that we don’t yet know its effects on human health, on soil fertility or on a wider ecosystem.

What about inquiring into why the pests are there in the first place? What if the proliferation of pests is an indication that the ecosystem is out of balance and it needs to be treated. What if that is a signal for us to change our relationship with land and ecology? The GMO intervention, regardless of its biological merit, represents an attitude of manipulating, controlling and overpowering.

That attitude also treats weeds as “pests” … but what makes them weeds is the fact that they are growing where we don’t want them to grow or we want to grow something else. A different view of weeds is that they serve two complementary and valuable functions. First they are indicating that the soil ecology is out of balance… there is too little or too much of something(s) … looking at weeds can tell a knowledgeable about the condition of soil and the life in it. Second they are, by growing in those conditions, working to create a healthier soil ecology by adding missing elements and removing excesses.

It gets even more interesting when you learn that some of those weeds are edible and much more nutritious then cultivated foods. In my climate, at this time of year (early spring) there is still very little cultivated food and what is available comes from greenhouses. However I can go outside and pick a salad from 4 or 5 different “weeds” that are growing abundantly … without me having to plant a single plant.

That shift in attitude toward “weeds” represents a shift away from a deeply rooted underlying mentality of control, manipulation and subversion of nature (and ourselves!) to our will, towards a mentality of co-creation. Working with nature rather then dominating it.

There is scientific evidence that we have been mistreating our soils for a long time. A long time ago someone realized that plowing fields resulted in better yields (the “scientific explanation” was that plants have little mouths and the broken up soil is easier for them to eat). Over the years it became clear that the initial improvement was a short term effect … that the yields did not improve the same way year after year … they actually got worst. So we invented more and more technological interventions to increase yields. Modern agriculture is this stack of interventions … one technological patch on top of another … leading up to petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides … and now that those are failing we are applying more force in the form of genetic modification.

Since then (but fairly recently) microbiology has revealed that plants get their nutrition in chemical exchanges with life in the soil (fungi, bacteria, etc … there is an entire living food chain in soils.). Microbiology also teaches us that every time we plow our soils we injure the life in it. Most agricultural cycles are therefor cycles of soil fertility depletion … and whatever we are giving back (such as cow manure is some of my neighbors do) is not enough … or even causing further destruction of soil life (as is the case with petro-chemical fertilizers).

We are doing something similar to ourselves. I recall that you once posted about research into bacteria. It turns out that our excess technological intervention in our own ecosystem (a living bacterial pool) via antibiotics have left us bacteriologically deficient. Your post linked to a long research paper which, if I remember correctly, stated that because of a drastic increase in c-section, births there is a generation of human beings which are bacteriologically deficient because they have been deprived of exposure to bacteria that takes place during vaginal birth. A technological solution was of course promised … someone will develop a magic pill filled with missing bacteria. Another approach would be to inquire why we are drifting away from natural birth, is that a direction we want to go and if not can we change course?

I worry about GMO not so much because of genetic modification (for which we have little evidence either way) but because of the underlying attitude that leads to simplistic manipulation of complex ecosystems which we are just beginning to grasp. If scientific truth is inherently temporary (science is a process of constantly challenging our theories and replacing them with better ones) … why do we like to treat it as permanent with “truths” such as “GMO’s are safe” or “plowing increases yields” or “antibiotics are god”. Doing so is scientifically wrong!

… and there are other expressions to the GMO story that are worth addressing. A social one … for example: thecompanies that are lading the way in GMO’s are also working to lock in their discoveries with patents. They are trying to take over one of the most obvious commons resource we have been gifted with … nature and food. There are places (like here in Romania) where they are also actively working to pass legislation that will outlaw traditional seed saving and trading. They are working to create a world where it would be illegal for me to save seeds from my own tomatoes and grow tomatoes from them next year. They want to force everyone to buy seeds from them … and those seeds cannot be saved because they have been genetically modified not to grow from second generation seeds AND they (the seeds) are patented and “legally” owned by their producers.

There are other solutions to care for the health and livelihood of peasants in poor countries. Solutions that come with long term vision of human, social and ecological well (and inter)being. A mono-culture crop of a genetically modified plant is one of the poorest technological solutions that mankind has to offer.

… for more on the systemic faults in science I recommend Rupert Sheldrake and The Science Delusion:

… for more on the transformation from a story of controlling and manipulating nature (and ourselves) to a story of interbeing I recommend Charles Eisenstein and Sacred Economics:

“In our journey of separation, we have developed amazing creative tools of technology and culture that would never have existed had we not departed from our original wholeness. Now it remains to recover that wholeness and bring it to a new realm, to create with nanotechnology and social media things of the same life, beauty, and soul that the old masters created with adzes and song. Let us insist on nothing less. For what purpose have our forebears sacrificed, if not to create a beautiful world?”

I also believe that there are interesting examples of how these worlds come together in the ecosystem that makes and is WordPress … but I think I’ll stop here.

Posted in AltEco, Intake, Intellect Run Amok, Open Source, outside, Tech Stuff, Wordpress | You are welcome to add your comment

Decades of Introverts

n

In this interesting commentary on Mozilla’s intention to deprecating non-secure HTTP I came across this example of a “developer profile':

 “In the last couple of decades, the answer to the introvert’s dilemma was easy: get a computer and learn to code. Like a novelist (another popular introvert career path), you can create a new world using only words. Being an introvert is even beneficial here, because writing good code is time-intensive and you don’t have idle socialization competing for your time.

This is where I was as a kid. I couldn’t build physical things, because I’m a klutz and we didn’t have the money for parts. I was socially inept, to say the least. But I could spend time at the school computer lab, and I could borrow time on the PC of a friend who probably only put up with me because we’re both named Ben.

I sometimes worry that I’m stuck in fifth grade, where I got lots of positive feedback for being good at solving little problems and writing code-like things. I certainly still spend most of my time doing things along those lines.

Posted in Intake, Open Source, outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to add your comment

Is Social Change (in the USA) Accelerating?

n

from This Is How Fast America Changes Its Mind
speedofsocialchange

via Matt Mullenweg

Posted in AltEco, Intake, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Goodbye to Apple, Google and Microsoft

n

A good article about the technologies we use in our day-to-day lives and how we can bring back value, consciousness and choice into selecting our relationship with them:

“More important, I’ve moved to these alternative platforms because I’ve changed my mind about the politics of technology. I now believe it’s essential to embed my instincts and values, to a greater and greater extent, in the technology I use.

The tools I use now are, to the extent possible, based on community values, not corporate ones.

Posted in AltEco, Business, Intake, Open Source, outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to add your comment